Sunday, March 21, 2010

Laos - Bullfrogs

In the book “Committed” by Elizabeth Gilbert she and her soon-to-be-husband are in Laos and they get invited to dinner. They are at the house of Elizabeth’s Laotian guide, a young man with a pregnant wife living in a tin shack. Here is an excerpt from the book about that night:

“We all sat down on a bamboo mat and shared the meal, rolling balls of rice in our hands. In keeping with Laotian custom, we all drank from the same glass, passing it around the room from the oldest to the youngest. And here is what we ate: Spicy catfish soup, green papaya salad in a smoky fish sauce, sticky rice – and frogs. These were giant frogs – huge, hefty, meaty bullfrogs – chopped into big parts like stew chicken and then boiled, skin and bones and all.”

I wish I could tell you that our Laotian meal was half as interesting (no, I did not score some massive bullfrogs to eat). Instead, I made Lahp Tofu. I also wish that I could tell you that we liked it. We didn’t. I don’t know why exactly, we all like tofu. Maybe it was because it had a banana flavor. True, a little more appetizing than meaty bullfrogs. Then again, the frogs may have been quite tasty.

Lahp Tofu

Vegetable stock
Soy Sauce
1/2 banana flower (green beans or green bananas)
sticky rice
2 red chillies
Green onions

Heat oil in wok until hot, then add the tofu. Fry cubes, turning occasionally to ensure even browning until they are golden (about 4- 5 minutes). Remove from oil, drain and cool.

Place tofu cubes on chopping board and coarsely mince with a large knife or chopper. Put the minced tofu into a large bowl for mixing with other ingredients later.

Heat 2 TBSP of oil in a frying pan, and add garlic, fry until barely golden, then add water (or stock) and 1 tablespoon of soy sauce.

Squeeze out the banana flower, add to the minced tofu and mix lightly. Add 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, then the fried garlic and some juice from the frying pan.

Sprinkle the ground roasted sticky rice over the mixture, and mix together by hand. Taste and adjust soy sauce if necessary.

Add the sliced chillies and chopped spring onions, mint and coriander. Lightly mix, then pile on a serving dish. Garnish with cucumber slices, beans and pieces of chilli or tomato.

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